Prince George's County officials are seeking to build a sprawling lacrosse complex in Bowie, complete with a 25,000-seat stadium, that they hope could lure D.C. United out of the District.
Maryland Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters, state Del. Justin Ross, and lobbyist Gerry Evans have met with the county's elected officials, including County Executive Rushern Baker, and planning officials to pitch their vision of a lacrosse complex that could become a national destination for matches and tournaments in a state known as a hotbed for the sport.
The proposed stadium would become the new home of the Chesapeake Bayhawks, the state's Major League Lacrosse franchise, which currently plays at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
Officials came to Prince George's after a similar effort in Anne Arundel County, led by NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino and Legends Sports Group, failed due to environmental concerns.
"It's all very preliminary at this point, but every place we've gone has given us a warm welcome in Prince George's," said Evans, whose son Michael is a Bayhawks captain.
The County Council has asked the Maryland Stadium Authority to conduct a feasibility study of a lacrosse complex and stadium in Bowie at the Green Branch Sports Complex, just south of Prince George's Stadium, home of minor league baseball's Bowie Baysox.
A new lacrosse stadium could serve as an ideal home for a Major League Soccer franchise, Evans said.
"There's no reason why the stadium couldn't be used for soccer," Evans said. "We haven't had much luck reaching out to D.C. United, but we've tried."
Executives with D.C. United haven't had any discussion about the Prince George's stadium proposal, according to team spokesman Doug Hicks. The team is under pressure from Major League Soccer to find a permanent home other than RFK Stadium.
"We've not spoken to anyone, either at the Bayhawks or with P.G. County," Hicks said. "That said, our focus right now is on the District of Columbia and Baltimore."
Legends Sports Group pulled out of the deal after Prince George's officials decided against making plans to build dormitories at the lacrosse complex. Instead, families drawn to the complex would stay in local hotels and eat at nearby restaurants. The complex, along the border of Anne Arundel County, could easily draw regional lacrosse teams, Peters said, with parents and families with disposable incomes to boost the economy in Prince George's.
The stadium authority board must vote to conduct the study, and it's not clear what it would cost. Evans said he's gathering a group of private investors to help pay, though the project has no developers lined up at this time.
The study would also examine the possibility of a lacrosse complex without the stadium.
"If the Bayhawks stadium can't move forward for whatever reason, we still want to move forward and build more fields to bring more sports to the area," Peters said.